Gulf War Illness as a Brain Autoimmune Disorder: a new study beginning Spring 2016
From: the Department of Defense
U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command
Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs
Gulf War IllnessResearch Program
Project Duration: 36 months; Total Budget: $881,946
Grants.gov ID Number: NT11742165
An investigator-initiated awardWe will study commonalities between
GWIand four known autoimmune disorders to establish a rationale for diagnosis and treatment of
GWI. We have shown that brain miscommunication patterns, as detected by magnetencephalography (
Magnetoencephalography) scans, can be used to accurately classify a variety of neurological/psychological disorders/diseases and healthy subjects. These diseases include multiple sclerosis, Sjogren's syndrome,
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, and
GWI. We also found that the brain communication patterns derived from
MEGscan results for
GWIand some autoimmune diseases are very similar, suggesting that brain abnormalities in
GWIare of autoimmune etiology.
We will assess brain communication patterns measured by
MEG, and obtain MRI-based measurements of brain structure. In addition, immune parameters will be acquired by testing blood to measure inflammatory and autoimmune markers. Further measures will be acquired to assess the cognitive, physical, neurological, and mental health status in our veteran participants. We will study a total of 200 veterans, including 100 with
GWIand 100 with one of the following known autoimmune disorders: multiple sclerosis, Sjogren's syndrome, systemic lupus erythematosus, and rheumatoid arthritis. Each participant will complete all study measurements, namely,
MEG, MRI, blood draw, neurological exam, cognitive testing, mental health assessment, and a general health assessment.
Why are we doing this?As with most medical practice, when presented with a set of symptoms and possible diagnoses, ruling out other disorders is important before a final diagnosis and treatment plan can be developed. It is equally important to find commonalities between different disorders. Taken together, this practice is called differential diagnosis. By using differential diagnosis techniques, we can find the similarities and differences between
GWIand known autoimmune disorders, which should provide evidence that
GWIrepresents an autoimmune response. As a result, this research will further advance knowledge and broadly impact
GWIdiagnosis and treatment.
Strengths of out study:Our study is not only practical but comprehensive, since we will use several low-risk, minimally invasive measures to obtain diverse and inclusive information about veterans with
GWIand veterans with one of four known autoimmune disorders. Furthermore, our recent research has shown our ability to use data analysis techniques to accurately classify subjects with specific diagnoses based solely on objective testing using
MEGresults. We have pioneered this test, which assesses the functional interactions among neural populations derived from
MEGrecordings. Lastly, our study has the potential to improve future
GWIevaluations, to further define the causes of
GWI, and to improve the treatments of
For further information, please contact our Project Coordinator at 612-467-1460.